Debate grows between Alfonso Prada and Álvaro Uribe over Belén de Bajirá
Colombian Senator and Ex-President Álvaro Uribe Vélez accused the Secretary-General of the President, Alfonso Prada, of hiding his failure to fulfill his promises to Chocó by transferring the region of Belén de Bajirá from the state of Antioquia to Chocó. He told the secretary-general that that the people of Antioquia were unhappy with the change made by the Geographic Institute Agustín Codazzi (IGAC) to relocate this region to within Chocó’s jurisdiction.
Colombia’s Chocó region has recently been the site of public unrest, with the population accusing the central government of not doing enough to help the poverty stricken area.
In his criticism of Prada, Uribe argued that the strategy carried out by Prada will only temporarily calm Chocó’s unrest and demands. He also stated this was not the way to solve this conflict because it will only create more problems.
Prada denied that the transfer of the territory had anything to do with recent unrest in Chocó.
“You can’t buy off social protest nor people’s dignity with this territory”, replied Prada. “Chocó’s leaders never demanded the ownership of this territory or the change of boundaries in exchange for stopping the protests. Rather, they asked the IGAC to publish the previous decision taken by this institution.” added the Secretary-General of the President.
Likewise, Prada exhorted Uribe to “put aside deceit, threats, and fallacies”. He also made a call to the general population to issue their complaints to the government, so as to communicate their differences through the appropriate means, and not through lies and insults.
A group of citizens did just that today, arguing that the transfer of territory is an unconstitutional overreach by the central government.
Uribe was not alone in condemning the decision. Mauricio Lizcano, President of Congress, also condemned this decision and said that Juan Antonio Nieto, director of the IGAC, circumvented congress. He claimed that the decision was unconstitutional and could only be made by the Congress itself. Others, such as Horacio Gallón, went further, saying that Nieto was negligent and deceitful in trying to convince Colombia that Belén de Bajirá belongs to Chocó.